Review by Mephistofun
"Some Problems but I strangely compelling in short(ish) bursts."
Far Cry 2 was a really strange game for me. I bought it a long time ago with a voucher that was near its' use-by date and, after almost destroying a pad and breaking my teeth in frustration I exchanged it and bought something else.
Yet here I am, literally years later, purchasing the same game (and it may even be the same copy for all I know) for the almost the exact money I traded it in for. You might ask why.
The thing is, it might have been a bad experience but, for the life of me I cannot remember the game I exchanged it for. Far Cry 2 is the second Far Cry game but not a sequel. There are no feral powers here, no feeling of being superhuman it's all realism this time around. Get hurt and you have to watch your character pulling bullets out with his teeth or digging them out with a knife.
You can even drive a car whilst reading the map on your knee! How real is that! It even means you can't see where you're going when you glance down at the bottom of the page. The game 'feels' like the old Mercenaries game at first, the one before it went a bit crazy and the developer started using glitches as a gameplay tool. You are on your own, trying to make enough money to survive. And what an environment!
This rendition of Africa is beautiful, no locals, save for bad guys or bad guys that don't want to kill you yet but then I guess if this is a warzone everyone would be trying to lie low. These hunter-gatherers, farmers and townsfolk must be like ninjas but the place still feels like it could be real. It is the place and setting that I ended up remembering and coming back for. I felt that many reviewers were caught up in the astonishment and perhaps relief that a developer had given them something to play that wasn't based on New York, L.A. or another dystopian future and many overrated it in my opinion, even though they all point out the problems. There are flaws but given time you might just forgive them.
But I very nearly didn't.
You see the flaws are quite big ones. The worst offender is the re-spawning of low level enemies, particularly early on in the game when they frequently prevent the player from reaching the objective, let alone completing it. the map is huge and though you can travel to bus stations, the stations are so far apart that driving by car is the only real option. Do that and, within a few hundred yards you will meet a check point. Kill every bad guy and you'll expend vital resources you need for the mission ahead and, early on, health. Don't move fast enough and reinforcements will arrive but the game keeps encouraging you to explore for diamonds with a kind of sat-nav that can spot briefcases and tells you the location with a 'warmer-cooler' mini game.
So it encourages you to go exploring and then harasses you for doing it. The thing is there were times when I'd turn around, literally 180 degrees and the whole flipping gang had respawned just at the edge of their sight range. Every bad guy within half a mile then runs for a land-rover to mow me down.
Hence me biting my pad and losing a filling.
And trading in the game.
There are other niggles but played in smaller doses it would work. The fights are never the same twice. AI varies from suicidally shooting RPGs at cover and blowing themselves up to disappearing into the brush and popping up where you least expect it. Both come out feeling realistic. You hope the guy with the bigger gun will make a mistake and you feel real fear as you lose sight of that guy you were tracking a second ago and hope he doesn't get the drop on you.
Sadly there is another issue that prevents newbies (and frankly weaker FPS players if I include myself) from getting to that more balanced stage where you can handle yourself and have enough safe houses to survive the journey to each mission. The save points are MILES apart.
It makes you plan your assault, makes you play cautiously and not like some human tank with a death-wish but early on it is soul destroying to creep gradually through the hordes of guards and checkpoints, getting lost and driving into trees, exploring for diamonds and then running into the same checkpoints again, only to then fail the mission and then have to do it all again.
It's offset a little by giving you a 'friend' who comes and rescues you when you get too shot up the first time but even then you end up watching several minutes of tedious "Hang in their pal," cutscene over and over again as well.
Rent this. If you don't 'snap' in the first five hours it'll last you ages. If you're a good FPS player and don't mind things feeling a little bit weightless, it's made for you. The world itself is ALMOST enough of a draw to keep you going but not quite. You'll need time and patience and the story isn't half as good as it tries to be but that setting will stay with you long after you finished with the game, be it reaching the end or the disc reaching the inside of your waste bin.
Graphics: 8 incredible for the time but a bit rough now. Not Fallout 3 rough though.
Sound: 8 Always feel a bit disingenuous doing this one being almost deaf. I'm told it sounds 'authentic,' the guns sound suitably rattly for the setting.
Gameplay: 6 Open world mechanics tend to work against the players motivation early on. Once you're hooked and you can add two points. Early on it almost kills your love of gaming though. It's an open world for the sake of saying 'see you can do anything.' Except travel quickly or safely. Kind of authentic for an African war-zone you could argue but nobody goes to those places for a good time in real-life either. Shooting could be tighter but the guns can be improved if you can forgive the games' steep difficulty curve early on.
Replay: 5 so divided on this one. There are more character to try but they play exactly the same. Dare I play it again? That said I only got through one play and it took me a more than a couple of years. I played the Fallout games, Just Cause (1 & 2) Mercenaries 2, Saints Row(s) and GTA 4 in that time. All of those were better, except Mercenaries 2 which was just too broken and silly.
Visit Far Cry 2. You never know. You might want to stay.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/22/11
Game Release: Far Cry 2 (Classics) (EU, 06/26/09)
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